NETHERLANDS - The €2bn pension fund for the Dutch hotel and catering sector Pensioenfonds Horeca & Catering's new money collection policy is has been met with some concerns by employers.

Under the new cost-reducing payment structure, put into force on January 1, the fund has asked employers to pay their pension contributions via a direct debit.

However, employers fear the prospect of hefty fines and ultimately even bankruptcy, as a consequence of non-payment if their direct debit account has insufficient funds.

Some employers have rejected the move in a news report on website, brandishing it as a "threatening situation" which might lead to more firms adopting a direct debit policy.

Eiko de Vries, chairman of the board at the fund, explained in the article that direct debits are a vital step to diminish administrative costs: "We have 35,000 employers and 400,000 participants. It is our task to arrange everything in the most efficient manner and it would be a shame if the premium goes up due to administrative costs."

He added: "We will not hesitate to start insolvency proceedings against firms. We are dealing with some notoriously bad payers."

A spokeswoman for the fund told IPE that employers are given several opportunities to pay the contribution, though "If they fail to pay they will receive a reminder after 14 days. If there are still insufficient funds another reminder will be sent alongside a penalty charge, 2% of the remuneration sum."

The spokeswoman concedes that the fund might have made a mistake in communicating its new structure to employers: "Employers don't have to pay via direct debit, but we would prefer it because it is cheaper."